3 Simple Ways To Live An Examined Life

Much of a tree’s mass is subterranean. Often times a tree’s root system extends outward underground for miles. In fact, trees in a forest are often intimately connected through delicate root systems, microbes and fungi. Scientists have only recently discovered this hidden aspect of forest ecology because primarily they have only been concerned by what they could see above ground.

Most would agree that the aboveground appearance of trees, especially in species like redwoods, sequoias, magnolias and oaks in northern California where I live, loom impressively upon our imaginations. What is even more fascinating is that a significant portion of a tree’s body is invisible to us as humans, and the function of the tree roots is just as important as the tree’s trunk, branches and leaves. However, most of us are not even aware of the subterranean, hidden lives of trees.

Human beings are like trees. We have a visible, external self, yet we also have an invisible, hidden self. We grow multidirectional like trees—upward, downward, inward and outward -- and we must cultivate the hidden parts of ourselves just as much as the visible parts.  Just like we ignore the invisible lives of trees, we also tend to ignore the invisible parts of ourselves.

Attending to the inner, invisible self is of utmost importance. We have so many things competing for our attention that finding time and energy to tend to our inner selves can be difficult and seem nearly impossible. However, our mental, spiritual and emotional health depends on being in tune with the invisible self.

The relationship we have to our inner self is unique, intimate and private. There is no one correct way to cultivate this relationship. Here are some strategies to help with cultivating a stronger relationship with your inner self:

1. Travel alone. Go somewhere you’ve never been by yourself; the trip does not have to be far! Traveling alone puts you in an unpredictable situation and forces you to depend on yourself, which can be an excellent way to tap into inner resources you never knew you had and gain confidence at the same time.

2. Keep a journal. Record your daily thoughts, musings, joys and sorrows. Continuously write out your goals, dreams and aspirations. Ask yourself what are the biggest obstacles preventing you from manifesting your intentions? Keep a list of things about your life that you are grateful for.

3. Be still and do nothing. This means absolutely nothing—no phone or other stimuli. Just let the mind daydream and wander. Pay attention to the desires, thoughts and feelings that emerge. Daydreaming can help us connect to our imaginations where the realm of possibilities is endless!

The outer self depends on the inner self; if we want to see more abundance, joy and wellbeing in our physical and material realm then we must develop a strong and healthy relationship with our inner self. Although this is the part of the self that we keep hidden from others, we mustn’t neglect it. For what is a beautiful, majestic tree without its deep, sturdy roots anchoring the tree to the earth and seeking out vital resources, which allow the tree to thrive in its environment?